Negotiating offer letter for a coveted summer job

I just got my dream job at a prestigious law firm. Everyone says I should negotiate but I don’t know what to ask for. I know women are not as good at negotiating as men are, so I don’t want to underperform on my first try.

8 replies
  1. Penelope
    Penelope says:

    The people who are most adamant about women putting on a good show in negotiations are other women. But research shows that women are gung-ho when they are encouraging other women to be tough, negotiate, go for it, etc. But when it comes to their own lives, women aren’t very competitive and definitely don’t negotiate without prodding.

    But it doesn’t matter. Women earn more than men until they have kids. Which means women are doing just fine even with their poor negotiating skills. And just because men are good at negotiating doesn’t mean it’s something women have to get good at.

    That said, negotiating for a job that is a very tough job to get seems disingenuous at best, and absurd at worst. Because of course you’re not going to turn down the job, so the negotiating is performative, which is not a very good way to start with your new colleagues. Save the tough-girl negotiating tactics for a time later in the job when it’s really important to you. There will be an opportunity. It’s hard to look like a strong negotiator when you’re doing it just for the heck of it.


  2. Abby
    Abby says:

    Hi there,

    Congratulations on your dream gig! Did you receive a written offer? Where are you at in the process now?


  3. AR
    AR says:

    Hi! I’m the one who asked the question! They emailed the offer letter and I have to get back to them Friday. Abby, thank you.

  4. Angie
    Angie says:

    Hi AR. Big congrats. Being offered the job is amazing.

    Thinking about my own circumstances (as a woman, and also as someone who is not in the same field as you), I have never felt comfortable negotiating for more when starting a new job (particularly if it was just a token negotiation because everybody tells you not to accept things straight away), I agree with Penelope – once you are in and proving your worth you will be able to do those negotiations and feel justified in doing so. I do however think you need to be sure that what they have offered you is on par with industry standards at the time, or equivalent to what you were already earning at the very minimum. Don’t settle for less just because it’s your dream job.

  5. Emily Kramer
    Emily Kramer says:

    When I got my first (and only!) real job the offer was $10,000 under what I wanted to make. I called my friend in HR and she said to say that I was excited about the job and that now that I got the full scope of the work I understand it was substantial and was there any wiggle room on the salary? They responded that there wasn’t but they were happy to review it with me in 6 months. I said that would be great and could they please look at he vacation policy and go from 2 weeks to 4. They did. Six months later I asked about my review and I got a $10,000 raise – so that means I made $5,000 more that year than I otherwise would have and had two weeks more vacation. The negotiation was smooth and the hiring manager said, after the fact, that he respects me so much for that conversation it made him feel all the more confident in his hiring me. Just my two cents!

  6. Abby
    Abby says:

    AR- what did you end up doing? I’m sorry for not responding sooner- but the comments covered the sentiments I was hoping you’d think through… Hope you got what you were hoping for!

  7. AR
    AR says:

    These comments surprised me! Thank you!!!
    The salary is high compared to similar jobs. I wanted to try negotiating though. I asked for relocation expenses and said it is because I’m moving across the country for the job. (I am doing that!) The partner I talked with said he had to check around. And then he gave me starting bonus for the amount I asked for. I would say I did well for my first time. It probably wouldn’t be a lot of money to all of you, but I’m happy!
    Thank you for giving me advice!

  8. Abby Hall
    Abby Hall says:

    AR, hell yes!

    Congratulations… sounds like you nailed the balance perfectly… so happy for you!

    C’mon back when you want to make the play for a full-time gig!



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